Town of Pittsboro Press Release on 1,4-dioxane: 1/25/2024, 5:27pm

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

25 JANUARY 2024

Media Contact: Colby W. Sawyer, MPA CEM | (919) 542-4621 ext. 1108 | csawyer@pittsboronc.gov

Town of Pittsboro Continues to Move Forward with Phase II Improvements at Water Plant

The Town continues to move forward with the Phase II enhancements to the Pittsboro Water Treatment Plant. In September 2022, the Town applied for funding through the North Carolina Division of Water Infrastructure (NCDWI) for “Phase II” improvements at the Pittsboro Water Treatment Plant. Phase II improvements include expanding our Granular Activated Carbon (GAC) filtration capacity to two million gallons per day and adding Ultra-Violet Advanced Oxidation Process (UV/AOP) systems to our water treatment processes. Our grant application was submitted prior to any conversations with the City of Sanford regarding a potential utility merger. In early 2023, the Town received a grant award totaling $17,904,000 from NCDWI for these purposes.

In the months between our grant application and notice of intent to fund the project, the Town began and moved forward with discussions regarding the Pittsboro-Sanford utility merger. Accordingly, plans to proceed with Phase II improvements were placed on hold for various reasons as merger discussions proceeded.

First, it was unclear at the time whether Sanford would continue to operate the existing Pittsboro Water Treatment plant once the connection to the Sanford water plant was completed, and expending so many funds and resources on a facility that may not continue to operate seemed like a poor use of funds.

Second, due to the intermittent nature of 1,4 dioxane releases into the Haw River and the ongoing costs of operating this system 24/7/365, analysis of the expenses versus benefits of this type of advanced treatment was required to ensure that the Town maintains good stewardship of public funds while providing this service. This includes considerations on increased utility rates associated with increased operating costs for advanced water treatment.

Third, around this time, the Town began discussions with NCDWI and the City of Sanford regarding applying our grant funds towards the costs associated with infrastructure needed to complete the merger. The Town believed that using the grant funds towards the merger capital projects would speed up the process, thus allowing us to receive water from alternative sources when 1,4 dioxane and other releases occurred in the Haw River and free up local funds for additional advanced treatment at the Sanford facility. We also argued that applying the funds towards the capital projects would reduce the time required for our ratepayers to achieve rate parity between Pittsboro and Sanford.

In Fall 2023, meetings with NCDWI led Town staff to understand that our awarded grant funds would not be allowed to be used for this purpose without a probable commitment to close our Haw River Plant.

In October of last year, in response to this finding, Town Staff resumed working with our engineers, stakeholders, and others on determining the best methods to implement the Phase II improvements at the Water Plant. These ongoing discussions have been productive, and the Town continues to move forward with the Phase II improvements to the Water Treatment Plant. Furthermore, the City of Sanford recently indicated they more than likely intend to keep the Pittsboro Water Plant online after the merger and utility connections are complete.

As such, the Town continues to work with NCDWI, engineering partners, utility stakeholders, and companies offering advanced treatment solutions to find the system that best meets the Town’s unique treatment and treatment space needs while staying within the confines of the grant funding. We are exploring multiple avenues for implementing these types of advanced filtration and hope to have a course of action announced soon.

The Town of Pittsboro remains dedicated to providing our customers with the highest possible water quality, and we appreciate our community’s care and concern regarding this topic. As additional information regarding this process is completed, we will share it with our community.

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Colby W. Sawyer, MPA CEM | Public Information Officer & Emergency Management Coordinator

Town of Pittsboro, North Carolina

Email csawyer@pittsboronc.gov

Phone 919-542-4621 ext. 1108 | Fax 919-542-2498

Web pittsboronc.gov

287 East Street, Suite 221-A | PO Box 759 | Pittsboro, NC 27312

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